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The Promise of Christmas

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Old 12-21-12, 08:32 AM   #1
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Post The Promise of Christmas

Much has been made over the past couple of decades about the validity of the celebration of Christmas at this time of year, citing the likelihood that the birth of Jesus the Christ actually took place in a totally different season. Four years ago we discussed the reasons that much of the "traditional" view of the nativity is based on folklore rather than historical truth. Sheep, shepherds, star, wise men, the governors of Syria and Judah, and many other components of our well-known Christmas story have been so heavily embellished over the years that it's difficult to pick the truth out of the tradition.

https://www.clublexus.com/forums/the...ml#post4093664

But what is it that we celebrate this time of year? Certainly not Christmas trees and a jolly old fat man who has come to personify some of the dodgier elements of the season - like greed and consumerism. No, it's not about the decorations, the gifts, the carols or bells as beautiful and fun as they are - it's about a promise made to us and its arrival one night some two millennia ago; the night God came down the stairs of heaven with a Baby in His arms.

From the time that man first discovered sin, God planned his redemption. He made a promise that one day there would be a way for man to escape the sentence of death he had placed upon himself by wanting to become God, and allow him to return to the Edenic state, forgiven. It would require a sacrifice, but in order to atone for the entire human race, it would have to be a spectacular one. In the ancient faith of the Hebrews, blood sacrifices were often required as a token of respect and allegiance to God. It was simple and put the person offering the dove, sheep, or ox in the proper frame of mind - of giving up something of value to them to honor their God; effectively saying that He was more important than we humans.

How does the ancient principle of blood sacrifice line up with the promise of God? Should we be celebrating Christmas in September or October rather than on December 25th . . . and does it really matter? It turns out that the celebration of birthdays didn’t even occur to human culture until we had a means of measuring time, but birthday celebrations were largely a pagan custom, adopted by some cultures as early as 400 AD, and then primarily to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of a king or very important person. Early Hebrews did not celebrate birthdays, except on or following the 13th anniversary of one’s birth, young men and women attained the age of responsibility and were admitted into temple worship in a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah ceremony. Early Christians did not celebrate the birth of Christ at all, because they still viewed the practice of celebrating birthdays as pagan. So it can be said that Jesus never observed a birthday, although as a practicing Jew, He would have certainly had a bar mitzvah in the local temple in which He assumed the responsibilities of manhood.

So why do we celebrate the birth of Christ at all? Because it is the fulfillment of a promise made many times over from ancient times that a savior would be born to redeem us from our sin, for wanting to be God ourselves. We celebrate the arrival of the Messiah who would save our lives - visible evidence of that now-ancient promise. But hardly anyone realized that our salvation would take place in the spiritual realm, not the physical one. To many who met Jesus during His ministry, He would be a disappointment, many believed their salvation would come at the hands of a mighty warrior-king who would slaughter their oppressors and drive out the gentiles from the land much as King David had done. This Jesus, a rather humble figure dressed in a simple garment, who owned hardly a single possession, traveled only a few miles from His birthplace, and was sentenced to die as a blasphemer for claiming to be God, this man, this humble man would allow Himself to be put to death as a sacrifice, not as a conquering warrior. Some people still have trouble with that, even today. It is odd that we wanted the power of God, He WAS God, yet both of us received a death sentence. The difference is that we are still condemned, but He conquered death.

We might well ask, "With armies of angels at His command, why didn't He simply destroy the occupying Roman legion, smash the corrupt temple, and set Himself upon the throne?" The simple answer is that He had a greater mission: the salvation of all mankind. By becoming the blood sacrifice, the sacrificial Lamb of God, He took the punishment all of us deserve, rendering us clean and acceptable in the presence of a holy God who can neither sin nor even be in the presence of sin. Thus sinless, we are welcomed home into His presence. He gave His Son that we might live.
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"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

- John 3:16-17, NKJV
You see, Christmas wasn’t the story . . . Easter was. By His sacrifice we are forgiven, the charges against us dropped if only we accept the greatest Christmas gift of all, Jesus Christ, into our lives. This time of year we often forget that. The Christmas Gift was a promise . . . Easter was its fulfillment. Between those two dates, some 33 years, His ministry demonstrated that we are teachable, redeemable, and above all, that each of us is loved by the very Power that tore aside the dimensional curtain and flung matter, energy, time, space, us, and all we know into existence. We can shout with that triumphant chorus of angels (with an assist from George Frideric Handel), "The Lord God omnipotent reigneth!"

Merry Christmas . . . enjoy the celebration of the season with all the tinsel and lights, feasting and family, gifts and good times. From our house, to yours, and to homes all over the world, we wish you a blessed Christmas. This year, amid all the celebration, stop for a moment and take heart in the promise that came to you over two thousand years ago - at whatever season. Through His sacrifice, you and I can have an eternal life. Accept that promise; see its fulfillment at the cross, and in the empty tomb. There is victory there for all of us. Merry Christmas indeed!

Last edited by Lil4X; 12-23-12 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 12-21-12, 09:25 AM   #2
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Amen! Merry Christmas CL!
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Old 12-21-12, 11:12 AM   #3
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That was DEEP! Thanks for posting! Merry XMAS, and Happy Holidays!

steve
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Old 12-21-12, 07:27 PM   #4
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Great post, Merry Christmas everyone!
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Old 12-23-12, 02:00 PM   #5
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And please, all of you...I'll say the same thing here I said at Thanksgiving. Enjoy the Christmas/Holiday meals/ festivities, but please don't overdo it on the spirits. Legal DUI and DWI blood-alcohol levels (though they vary by state) are usually around .004 and .008. Police often set up roadside checkpoints on drinking-holidays....and watch for those trying to evade them.

BTW.....I agree with Lil4X on the true meaning of the holiday.

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Old 12-23-12, 02:53 PM   #6
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Today's "Christmas Eve Eve" service was full, as will be tonight's. Two more similar services tomorrow afternoon and evening will be celebrated by a total of over 16,000 members and guests on our central campus alone. Our two suburban campuses and two "theater" campuses will host a similar number of celebrants who will hear a message of hope and promise for the year to come.

http://bcove.me/ffx2g2gl

I have to confess, each year my favorite part of these services is a solo by a little girl delivering "Happy Birthday Jesus" never leaves a dry eye in the house.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=aKsnzT1w39o

A children's Christmas pageant, carols and our traditional puppy giveaway to lucky kids in every service, rounded out with a candle-lighting ceremony and a choir performance and singalong of the Hallelujah Chorus has everyone in a Christmas mood.
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Old 12-23-12, 04:51 PM   #7
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Just a little light story for all of you:

When four of Santa's elves got sick, the trainee elves did not produce toys as fast as the regular ones, and Santa began to feel the Pre-Christmas pressure.

Then Mrs. Claus told Santa her Mother was coming to visit, which stressed Santa even more.

When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two others had jumped the fence and were out, Heaven knows where.

Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the floorboards cracked, the toy bag fell to the ground and all the toys were scattered.

Frustrated, Santa went in the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered the elves had drunk all the cider and hidden the liquor.

In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider jug, and it broke into hundreds of little glass pieces all over the kitchen floor.

He went to get the broom and found the mice had eaten all the straw off the end of the broom.

Just then the doorbell rang, and an irritated Santa marched to the door, yanked it open, and there stood a little angel with a great big Christmas tree.

The angel said very cheerfully, 'Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn't this a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?'

And thus began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.

Not very many people know this.
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Old 12-23-12, 06:06 PM   #8
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Feliz Navidad
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Old 12-25-12, 07:41 AM   #9
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Merry Christmas!
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Old 12-25-12, 09:34 AM   #10
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Santa Claus, or originally St. Nicholas, the mythical gift-giver of Christmas, was a real human being - the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Myra (now in Turkey) who was noted for his generosity and care for children. But beyond the historical character and the legion of myths that have grown up around him, the commercialism and retail hype that has Jolly Old St. Nick taking part in furniture sales and supermarket openings this time of year, there IS a real Santa Claus.

Perhaps he is best explained in an editorial that appeared in the New York Sun on Sept. 21, 1897. It seems that a young girl wrote to the editor of the Sun:
Quote:
"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.' Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

VIRGINIA O'HANLON.
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."
Well, veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church of the Sun couldn't let a child's question go unanswered, and his response has been the most quoted editorial of all time, appearing not just in print, but in books, movies, posters, even postage stamps. Mr. Church's reply should be read aloud in every home, every Christmas, to remind us of why we believe, along with Virginia, in the power of belief and generosity over skepticism and selfishness. Maybe if we saw the world with the clarity of an 8 year old, unafraid of ridicule for her simple question, we'd better understand Mr. Church's editorial answer to Virginia in the Sun's editorial pages 115 years ago is a monument to the meaning of Christmas in our time . . .
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"VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

"Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

"Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

"You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

"No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."
Well said, Mr. Church, well said . . . Merry Christmas!
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Old 12-25-12, 10:36 AM   #11
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Merry Christmas to all Lexus owners out there. May your gas mileage be high and your repair costs be low.

Last night's service at our Methodist church was awesome. My little girl sang well in the choir, as did the whole group.

Both pastors gave heartwarming sermons and the singing of Silent Night by the entire congregation at the end was quite special.

Please say a prayer for the parents of the children that have been taken from them recently..

Nice post, Lil4X!
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Old 12-25-12, 10:36 AM   #12
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just felt like i READ a homily/sermon! Thank you fellow Houstonian! Merry Christmas to EVERYBODY!
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Old 12-25-12, 12:19 PM   #13
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Merry Christmas ClubLexus. Hope everyone is safe and happy.
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Old 12-25-12, 01:04 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasili View Post
Merry Christmas to all Lexus owners out there. May your gas mileage be high and your repair costs be low.
Hoping that comes true, lol.

Gas mileage at an all-time low, and big $$$ in repairs looking me in the eye right now.
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